How to Plan Your Trip to Petra – Visiting Petra is one of those “once in a lifetime” bucket list things. I had always dreamed of visiting the lost city but after spending so much of my life watching documentaries about Petra and the Nabateans and imagining myself exploring the ruins like a well lipsticked Indiana Jones, I began to wonder if it would ever be possible for the reality to live up to my expectations. When it came to it though, not only did Petra fulfill my every expectation, it actually exceeded them and was the cherry on the top of a perfect trip to Jordan.
When you first look at Petra in relation to the rest of Jordan, it looks like it is smack bang in the middle of nowhere (and it is essentially… right in the middle of the desert!). People often panic about how they are going to get there but you have a couple of options based on your personal preferences and budget.
If like me you are a solo female travelling in Jordan then I would strongly recommend hiring a personal driver/guide. I never felt unsafe in Jordan, and I feel that one of the reasons for this was because I did exactly that. It’s a little more expensive than public transport, yes, but I don’t believe that you can really put a price on your own safety and peace of mind.
How to Plan Your Trip to Petra
How to Get to Petra
Assuming that you are traveling to Petra from either Amman, or Queen Alia International Airport, you have a couple of options for getting to Petra depending on your budget and personal preferences. Those options are:
- By Bus – Your cheapest option to get to Petra is to take the Jett bus from Amman central station. Unfortunately the schedule for this is somewhat limited. The bus departs from Amman to Petra once a day at 6.30am and the return bus (Petra to Amman) runs daily at 5pm. The fare is 10 JOD each way.
From Queen Alia International, you can take a cab to Amman centre for around 20 JOD but obviously, due to the limited bus schedule then this warrants at least one overnight stay.
- By Private Driver – Pricier but arguably much more pleasant and convenient, you can hire a private driver to take you directly to Petra. The prices start from around 80 JOD per day from Amman (slightly less from Queen Alia Int’l) and if you wish, your driver will make a couple of recommended stops along the way (for example, the old crusader castle at Karak is en-route and very interesting)
- By Hotel Transfer – Some hotels in the Petra area will organise a shuttle service for you but you should note that they all use third party providers, and the prices are likely to be similar to, or more than, that which is detailed above for a private drive.
Side Note: If you have the time, I would truly recommend you spend some time in Amman rather than just rushing ahead to Petra as the Jordanian capital is fascinating and quirky. Read about things to do in Amman here.
How Much is the Petra Entrance Fee?
If you are visiting Jordan with the sole purpose of visiting Petra, then you can buy a ticket to the site at the entrance. A one day pass will cost you 50 JD ($70/£54), and a two day pass costs 55JD ($78/£60). However! If you are planning on visiting Petra as part of a wider Jordan itinerary and will be spending at least three nights in Jordan then I would advise you to consider buying the Jordan pass.
The Jordan pass can be bought online prior to travel and includes both your Petra admission and your Jordanian visa fee (usually 40JD payable upon arrival at the airport). It also includes access to numerous other sites of interest around Jordan (for example, the ruins at Jerash, and the Amman citadel) and will cost you either 70JD if you want to spend only one day in Petra, and 75JD if you want to spend two days in Petra, therefore saving you money overall. (Read further info on this at the Jordan Pass website here)
Note: I am in no way affiliated with the Jordan pass website or its services, I just think that this can save you a fair bit of dough $$$, You can thank me later.
Consider Staying Two Days
When you’ve looked at pictures of Petra, you’ve probably seen images of the impressive Monastery and the classic Indiana Jones treasury, but what you may not realize is the sheer vastness of the site (at least I didn’t!). There are so many scenic hiking trails dotted throughout the park that will take you 2-3 hours a piece and sometimes it’s nice just to spend time wandering the ruins like Lara Croft, taking in the sights and having fun getting lost rather than running around like a mad thing panting and sweating while trying to frantically cram everything in.
More excitingly, if you plan your itinerary so that your Petra visit falls on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday, then you can bare witness to the “Petra by night” event which sees the site illuminated with thousands of candles.
Where to Stay
If you choose to spend a night near Petra, you will be staying in or close to the small village of Wadi Musa.
I stayed at the Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp which was cute in some ways (you can rent a little yurt and it’s amazing to see the sky at night from the middle of the desert while it is completely illuminated by stars) but if you are looking for something a little more comfortable, I would recommend the Movenpick hotel. For a five star hotel, it’s actually pretty affordable and is located literally right outside Petra’s doorstep.
Hiking in Petra
I wrote a separate posts about the hikes in Petra so I won’t go into too much detail here. Many people question whether the Monastery hike is worth the blood, sweat and tears (have I persuaded you to do it yet?) and I would say that it absolutely is.
I was a hot, sweaty, and probably smelly mess by the time I finally reached the site but it was such a satisfying feeling to have made it. Not too many people actually go ahead and do the Monastery hike so you have the added bonus of having it somewhat to yourself. A local Bedouin man has opened a scenic cafe in a cave at the top which faces the Monastery so it is the perfect place to enjoy your mint tea with a view.
Because the site is so large, and the main points of interest are quite dispersed, visiting Petra will inevitably entail an amount of walking and hiking. However, all trails are relatively manageable provided you have a general level of fitness.
If you get tired, there will be plenty of vendors offering horse/camel/donkey rides to your intended destination. By the end of your visit, I am sure you will be tired of respectfully declining their offers of an “air-conditioned donkey ride” or a “camel Ferrari”. The men that wait around at the entrance offer you a “complimentary horse ride” which is apparently included in your ticket. That’s essentially true, but be prepared to tip
If you do decide to take a ride on a particular animal, check the prices before you get on board and don’t be afraid to haggle. (Tips on haggling successfully here)
Don’t be Afraid to Say NO
There are many touts selling their wares within Petra so be prepared for the fact that you will be perpetually hassled to buy scarves, knives, handicrafts, animal rides, etc with some Merchants being rather aggressive (one guy chased me around the Treasury area with a bag full of knives, and became quite verbally abusive when I wouldn’t buy one!) The best thing to do is politely but firmly tell them “No” and just continue on your way. If you engage in a discussion, it’ll only encourage them to try harder.
I personally don’t like to accept or encourage animal rides. The animals at Petra looked a little exhausted and bedraggled and I didn’t like the way that some of them were being handled but that’s personal preference. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t buy anything from the young children roaming the park as it only further encourages child begging/exploitation.
What to Wear
Though I would recommend that you generally dress conservatively in Jordan (i.e. shoulders covered and a long skirt or trousers), you are generally given more leniency in Petra. Those working within the park are accustomed to seeing tourists so it’s very typical to see people walking around in shorts and t-shirts.
As a solo female in Jordan, I would recommend dressing more modestly, purely so you do not attract too much unwanted male attention. I wore a hijab (though you will note I changed for some photos out of vanity/not wanting to look homeless) but it was mostly for sun protection, and this is not expected of you.
Solo Female Travel in Petra
I generally felt pretty safe in Petra and in Jordan as a whole, though I did receive quite a lot of male attention from both locals working in the site, and from Indian tourists who would literally follow me around taking my photograph (I cannot understand why since I felt like such a sweaty, revolting beast). Follow the main trails and try not to go wandering off by yourself down isolated routes or find yourself still on a trail when it starts to get dark. Dress modestly as above, and if you find someone following or pestering you, then either notify one of the local vendors (Jordanians are usually incredibly friendly and welcoming) or head to one of the tourism police checkpoints (there are several dotted throughout)
Explore More of Jordan!
I was quite ignorant before traveling to Jordan and I didn’t know a huge amount about what else there was to do there before I actually arrived and realised that it wasn’t just Petra that was fascinating, but the whole of the country. From the quirky capital of Amman, to bobbing around like a cork in the Dead Sea, there is SO much to do in Jordan besides Petra so I hope that you are able to spend a little longer here.
A Breathtaking 10 Day Jordan Itinerary – Click Here
10 Things to do in Amman – Click Here
Why I Fell in Love with Jordan – Click Here
The Best Hikes in Petra – Click Here
Guide to Crossing the Israeli-Jordan Border – Click Here
If you have any other questions about planning your trip to Petra, are looking for a recommendation on a guide, etc. then feel free to contact me (Melissa@highheelsandabackpack.com) or let me know by dropping me a comment below!